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Social Perception and Social Reality: Why Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0195366600
ISBN-10: 0195366603
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Editorial Reviews


"Social psychologists delight in showing us our biases and how these lead us astray in perceiving individuals and groups. Lee Jussim shows that in fact our biases are small, and our social perceptions largely accurate. He does this in the voice of the guy next door, amazed that the kings of social psychology are wearing no clothes." -- Clark McCauley, author of Why Not Kill Them All?: The Logic and Prevention of Mass Political Murder and Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us

"Are stereotypes often accurate? It's an empirical question, not a moral one, and Lee Jussim is one of the very few scientists who have the guts to treat it as such. This important book will change how you think about stereotypes. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to study prejudice, or reduce it." -- Jonathan Haidt, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

"Lee Jussim is the pre-eminent neo-realist in social psychology today. In this book, he makes a compelling and impassioned case for the idea that ordinary people get many of their social perceptions and judgments right, in sharp contrast to the prevalent academic view that they do not. As much as Jussim's work is an apologia for the common man and woman, it is an indictment of the fault-finding research program that dominates the field and the textbooks." -- Joachim I. Krueger, Professor of Psychology, Brown University

"What a terrific book! For many decades, psychological research has lured observers into believing that biased reasoning is both rampant in everyday life and profoundly dangerous. Lee Jussim meticulously dissects that literature and issues a startling corrective to conventional wisdom by documenting many ways in which human psychology has been mischaracterized. The bottom line of his work is an illuminating portrait of human nature and a humbling portrayal of inferences so often based on psychological research findings." -- Jon A. Krosnick, Frederic O. Glover Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences, and Professor of Communication, Political Science, and Psychology, Stanford University

"This delightful book provides a lively tour through research on error, bias, and accuracy in social judgment. Along the way, it provides valuable lessons in research methodology and the sociology of social psychology, as it develops a carefully documented and nuanced argument that human judgment is more sensible than the research literature often makes it appear." -- David Funder, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside

"Lee Jussim poses fundamental and long ignored questions about the relative balance of data-driven versus theory-driven information processing in social judgment. Moreover, he is coming up with answers that just might require rewriting big sections of social psychology textbooks." -- Philip Tetlock, Leonore Annenberg University Professor, Department of Psychology, and The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

"This is a dense book, presenting decades of social science data and conclusions and an occasional table for good academic measure. It's a serious book, a serious argument by a serious scholar, and anyone with an interest in the topic (especially those who study or teach the issues raised in the book) should have a copy on a nearby bookshelf. It is also written in a great voice -- a somewhat cranky, fist-raised voice trying to make the reader sees what the author sees, because it's important." -- PsychCENTRAL

"He does review many studies in detail, includes tables summarizing results of the research he covers, and makes a case for his choice of studies not being biased. The book is well
organized and clearly written. Jussim sets out a road map for the arguments he will make
and follows it. He has read the original sources very carefully. His is a book that scholars in
these areas likely will want to readmany to see how their own work is critiqued! Students also could learn a great deal about the importance of attending to the details of classic and current studies from reading this book.." -- Margaret S. Clark and Elizabeth Clark-Polner, PsycCRITIQUES

"This is a very important book. It is an extensive and painstaking refutation of a set of mistaken assumptions that have dominated social science research since the 1950s, and continue to bias the thinking of most professionals in the field. It is a book for specialists [that] systematically dismantles the illusions that helped give rise to today's reflexive suspicion of whites." --American Renaissance

About the Author

Lee Jussim is Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at Rutgers University. He has published extensively on stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, self-fulfilling prophecies and expectancy-confirming biases, and accuracy in social perception. He fully embraces scientific data, even when that data yields unpopular or politically incorrect conclusions (many of which can be found in this book).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 486 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195366603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195366600
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.7 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #611,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This key work successfully uses good science as an antidote to the almost religious fervor with which academia discourages stereotyping people, to the point where the social sciences are probably harmed through inaccuracy. The author convincingly lays out a case that our stereotypes tend to be pretty darn accurate-- that we're not perfect, but quite good at picking up social cues, and therefore social differences, particularly when we have a lot of exposure to who we're stereotyping. There's also some useful information about how self-fulfilling prophecy effects (treating people different makes them different) can be overemphasized in size and importance sometimes (he doesn't at all negate their importance- on the contrary- but tries to show the need to place these special cases within a generalized context of remarkable accuracy in our social perception).

Buried in the many stereotype chapters is some evidence-based speculation that part of the reason for our academic reluctance to stereotype may be ideological- that American liberals tend to either miss differences, or purposefully gloss over them, so that they make assumptions that stereotyping is bad or dangerous (or, even if admitted, display a kind of 'yes, but' attitude that may decrease accuracy in judgement). This subject is treated perfunctorily, but the ideology connection fits, given the overwhelmingly liberal makeup of social psychology college professors. For some, that connection glows and throbs; with this book's release, there was a mini-flurry in the conservative blogosphere, with one commenter even worrying about noting their approval publicly: "If he is one of us, then we should think long and hard as to not do the kiss of Judas on him.
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Format: Hardcover
With respect to the exploration on human truth and falsehood in psychology, there is no book better or stronger than Lee Jussim's recently published book. It is a milestone not only for scientists, pundits, and other scholars but also for lay persons.

The book has seven parts which are well-organized and beautifully written --i.e., Part One (introduction), Part Two (on the awesome power to expectation), Parts Three and Five (on the controversial aspects of self-fulfilling prophecies), Part Four (accuracy's history, definition, criteria and evidence), Part Six (stereotypes), and Part Seven (conclusion). The book provides readers with an intellectually and scientifically revolutionary perspective of the most distorted or abused area about stereotypes, stereotyping and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Are we really irrational and heuristically biased in our decision, social judgment, and perception? Are our stereotypes inaccurate and false? Are self-fulfilling prophecies as powerful as those scholars reported? Numerous studies meticulously analyzed in this book provided "No's" to all those questions. The book examined the condition in which people do not use stereotypes and still make accurate judgment and perception (i.e., when individual information is available) and the condition in which people indeed use stereotypes and still have accurate perception (i.e., when no information, no useful information or ambiguous information is provided). Like the yin-yang perspective, biases and accuracy occur "simultaneously right alongside one another," but studies reviewed in the book showed that bias is "generally small compared to accuracy". Although people are "not perfectly rational and unbiased," they are frequently "pretty damn good.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It takes a lot of strength to go against the academic mainstream and it is usually rewarded with scorn, hate, or ignorance. This did not stop Lee Jussim.

We all know that "stereotype" is bad and always incorrect. The media tells us so. In case the stereotype is correct it is not because of some intrinsic reason, no, it is because of "self-fulfilling prophecies". You are not dumb because you are born that way, you are dumb because society expects that of you, e.g. because of the existing stereotype that people with lots of muscles are dumb. There is a subconscious urge to follow those unwritten rules of the other people. Stereotypes are bad, get rid of them or you are a bad person.

This is just an example. To make it short, Lee Jusim tells it the other way. He says that stereotypes are overall relatively accurate and that - despite what press and social scientists often claim - stereotypes can be easily altered by experience that disconfirms held beliefs. Self-fulfilling prophecies usually only have a small effect and in a few cases they can be large, but not as a rule.

That does not sound overly spectacular but runs contrary to that what the mainstream media postulates, fed by a generation of social psychologists and scientists. It all runs together with the idea that social engineering is working and a good idea, so you can mold human nature the way you want. Also, everything bad in the world is the result of bad people and their bad ideologies.

Of course, in truth stereotypes are not always bad. They can be useful. Imagine your parents telling you that you should avoid tigers because they are dangerous. If you follow that stereotype you will survive. Do not follow it, you are dead. And cannot procreate. Evolution at work.
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